Kristen Gudsnuk: You Did Not Just Tell Me To Hench!
I’m here at Garden State Comic Fest with Kristen Gudsnuk, the writer and artist of the hit comic series Henchgirl, published by Dark Horse Comics. She is currently working on a graphic novel for Scholastic Graphix, which is of course the publisher that also publishes Dav Pilkey and Raina Telgemeier, so that’s really cool, too. Kristen, I’d like to ask you a few questions for my readers.
Kristen Gudsnuk: Awesome!
Carl: Did you want to become a comic book creator when you were a kid?
Kristen Gudsnuk: I had a lot of random ambitions when I was a kid many of which were like, “I want to be a sailor scout!” “I want to be an astronomer!” But I think, I also did want to be an artist of some sort. I hadn’t really figured out that I liked comics until I was a bit older.
Carl: What comic books did you read when you were a kid?
Kristen Gudsnuk: I got really, really into Inuyasha when I was in about 7th grade, and that was kind of descent into comic books. So, it was a lot of manga from the 90’s: Inuyasha, Sailor Moon – I’m wearing a Sailor Moon shirt, – yeah, it was mainly manga actually. But, a couple of other series, too.
Carl: What comics do you read now?
Kristen Gudsnuk: Nowadays I try to expand what I read. Also, not just comics too, you want to make sure to read all sorts of different mediums. Like prose, so you don’t forget, like, your attention span doesn’t get messed up. But recently I read Super Mutant Magic Academy, which was really good. It was by Jillian Tamaki, and it was like a really fun sort of slice-of-life series that was just little strips about kids in, like, a magic school. That was really neat. And I read American-Born Chinese, which maybe you’ve read; it’s a middle-grade book, and it’s about coming of age and being Asian-American. It’s really interesting.
Carl: Neat. When my dad and I read the description of Henchgirl, we immediately laughed and then started reading it. How did you come up with the idea?
Kristen Gudsnuk: Um, I was watching a lot of Batman: The Animated Series with my boyfriend, because I kind of missed it the first time around, when I was little, and so I watched it as an adult, and I really liked it a lot. And I wanted to make fun of some of the superhero tropes that I saw being used in, like, a lot of different mediums. So, it was partially that and, I also, I started working on Henchgirl because I, I don’t know, I just, like, wanted to express something and I felt like that comic…it’s weird – it’s kind of a metaphor for when you’re older and you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your life and stuff. She doesn’t exactly know what she wants out of life or how to get it, so, in that way it’s metaphorical so it kind of like, expresses that.
Carl: Have you ever watched the Phineas and Ferb episode where Candace becomes the Dangeraffe and tells her friend to hench? And her friend Stacy says, “Oh no, you did not just tell me to hench!”
Kristen Gudsnuk: I have not seen that yet!
Carl: Oh, it’s really good, you should see it!
Kristen Gudsnuk: I guess I should! That’s funny.
Carl: You started Henchgirl as a web comic. Was it just something to have fun with, or did you plan to do it for a long time?
Kristen Gudsnuk: When I first started it was just for fun. I didn’t really see it going anywhere and, in fact, I had to redraw the first 80 pages or so, because, first of all, I hadn’t figured out how to draw very well yet And also, I wasn’t taking it very seriously, so I had to redo a bunch of it. So, yeah, it did start out just for fun. But the story just kept on getting longer and more, I don’t know, I just kept on having ideas about it, which is always what you want when you are writing. Something that gives you lots of inspiration. So, I just kept rolling with it, until it ended.
Carl: Have you thought about animating Henchgirl?
Kristen Gudsnuk: I don’t think I am the person to do it. But if anyone else were to, if it were a T.V. show or something, I would be totally fine with that. But, I don’t know how to animate so, not me.
Carl: What can you tell me about your work with Scholastic Graphix?
Kristen Gudsnuk: Well, currently I’m working on a project that I’m writing and drawing. The title hasn’t been announced yet, so I won’t say it. But it’s going to be really cool. Middle grade. Graphic novel. Kind of — you might not get this, this cultural reference — but it’s like: Freaks and Geeks meets Sailor Moon. So, it’s kind of about the – the bad part of coming of age… plus magic! You know it’s more of a realistic take. Which is what I was going for because I remember when I was little, I didn’t like stuff that felt like talked down to me, I’d be like “This is for babies!” I liked stuff that had real stakes, so I was trying to do that.
Carl: When is it coming out?
Kristen Gudsnuk: It’s coming out next July. So in a year from now.
[Note – Just 4 more months!]
Carl: Thank you for answering my questions. It was nice to meet you.
Kristen Gudsnuk: Nice to meet you too! Thank you!